clumsy

adjective

clum·​sy ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio)
clumsier; clumsiest
1
a
: lacking dexterity, nimbleness, or grace
clumsy fingers
b
: lacking tact or subtlety
a clumsy joke
2
: awkward or inefficient in use or construction : unwieldy
a clumsy contraption
criticized her sentence for its clumsy construction
clumsily adverb
clumsiness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for clumsy

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct).

awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact.

periods of awkward silence

clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill.

a clumsy mechanic

maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations.

a maladroit politician

inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy.

a hopelessly inept defense attorney

gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding.

felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of clumsy in a Sentence

I'm sorry about spilling your wine—that was very clumsy of me. I have very clumsy hands and tend to drop things. She made a clumsy attempt at a joke.
Recent Examples on the Web The two end up on the run from National Security Forces, the Russian mob, and a group of clumsy street thugs and bikers led by a wannabe Mafia boss. Matt Grobar, Deadline, 1 July 2024 Over the years, the portrait of Biden that has emerged through his interviews, debates, and speeches is of an agile thinker and a clumsy talker. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 26 June 2024 The clumsy firing provoked an immediate outcry from employees, especially as the board failed to provide any more detailed explanation of what had justified firing the CEO of a world-leading tech company. Kelsey Piper, Vox, 22 May 2024 And this—clumsy segue alert—is one way to pull out of a subscription! Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 20 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for clumsy 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clumsy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

probably from obsolete English clumse benumbed with cold

First Known Use

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of clumsy was circa 1598

Dictionary Entries Near clumsy

Cite this Entry

“Clumsy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clumsy. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

clumsy

adjective
clum·​sy ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio)
clumsier; clumsiest
1
a
: lacking skill or grace in movement
clumsy fingers
b
: showing social awkwardness or a lack of tact
a clumsy attempt at a joke
2
: awkwardly or poorly made : hard to use
a clumsy tool
clumsily adverb
clumsiness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on clumsy

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